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Defining the relationship between fine motor visual-spatial integration and reading and spelling

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New research suggests that mechanisms involved in fine motor skills play an important role in reading and writing development. Extending past work that focused on fine motor skills measured in adolescence, the present study followed children longitudinally from ages 5 to 7 to examine early literacy and associated sets of fine motor skills, including visual-spatial integration and specfically grapho-motor skills. The current sample of 883 children (Mage = 6.78) from 80 geographically dispersed schools in Singapore was administered the Inventory of Early Development—3rd Edition (IED-III Standardised) assessment, to assess their visual-spatial integration and grapho-motor skills, and the Wide Range Abilities Test, 4th Edition (WRAT-4) to evaluate their reading as well as spelling in English. After controlling for age, maternal education, non-verbal intelligence, verbal memory, and inhibitory control, grapho-motor skill explained significant unique variance in reading (6%) and in spelling (3%) performance. This corroborates the role fine motor processes play in early literacy development in the context of Singapore, where there is less emphasis on non-academic skills even at an early age. Knowing the association of grapho-motor skills with these two literacy domains suggests potential avenues for improving future pedagogies for literacy skills.

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This study was funded by the Education Research Funding Programme, National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, project no. OER 09/14RB. The views expressed in this paper are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of NIE.

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Correspondence to Beth A. O’Brien.

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Mohamed, M.B.H., O’Brien, B.A. Defining the relationship between fine motor visual-spatial integration and reading and spelling. Read Writ 35, 877–898 (2022).

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